Human connection requires two parties to willingly step into relationship with one another. Nature, however, is always waiting with open arms. As we consider how we might better walk alongside each other as humans, we must spend time in nature to refocus and reframe how we live. Today, as a community, we stepped into nature’s embrace by celebrating Earth Day 2022.
Since the 1940s, Proctor students and faculty have spent time together managing Proctor's land. Originally set up as a "Campus Improvement Squad", Proctor's Woods Team has evolved over the years alongside the acreage (now 2,500) the school stewards. Each fall and spring, a hearty group of students join faculty in the maintenance of trails, splitting of fire wood, maple sugaring, and diving into any other task needed at the time.
The Proctor Woodlands Center is a project that has been three years in the making. Through the support of generous donors who understand Proctor's deep connection to the natural world and surrounding woodlands, this building will transform the life sciences at Proctor. With an estimated completion of July 2022, the Proctor Woodlands Center will be open for science classes starting next fall.
Recently, the Proctor Woodlands Research Team (Proctor’s latest evolution of academic and afternoon program work) and I traveled up to a point on their trail map - marked E7. We also traversed over to D7, and C7 - as the crow flies. To look at the flattened representation of that area on that map, those pins were actually a series of bright orange stakes in the ground set at regular intervals marking the spots from which the group would do their work. To be precise, E7 is indicated on the map in the Proctor Woodlands that stretches due northwest from the Woodlands Office.
Each fall, the trails throughout the Proctor Woodlands are littered with acorns that threaten a rolled ankle even among the most nimble of hikers. As winter snows recede and spring temperatures catalyze the annual rebirth within the 2,500 acres of land Proctor calls home, some of these acorns will sprout and grow into saplings.
For the past 51 years, the first week of September at Proctor Academy has been synonymous with Wilderness Orientation. While last year’s Orientation program had to be altered due to COVID-19, Proctor’s 118 new students are set to head into the wilderness of the White Mountains for five days once again. The experience that awaits them - the vastness of the wilderness, the challenges of hiking high peaks, and the relationships forged with classmates and faculty leaders - will lay the foundation for their Proctor journey
The turn of the calendar to July signifies for educators that powerful moment when we can finally take a deep breath. End of year meetings, letters to advisors, and many details are wrapped up, we have had a few weeks to unwind from the stress of the school year, and can start to begin to process the beautiful chaos in which we swam for the past ten months.